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The Work Week

Story by Joseph Young (Read author interview) March 15, 2006


Durer came over. We ate lunch in the yard and I served ham and black bread. His beard was very long. He asked about you. He seemed sad and kept rubbing at the ink on his hands. I have a hard enough time understanding German without the tears. He’s a grand fellow but works too hard. And it shows. Afterwards, he sketched under the pear tree. He looked quite comical among the blossoms. For awhile he smiled and seemed content. He asked about you.


Lou wants to write a symphony! Can you believe it? Not that he hasn’t written some great songs—VU is amazing!—but come on. We drank some beer and his eyes began to move, his lips. You know how he does? I think it’s that old hunger welling up, his cells stretching out again. He’s a man with a long, long past. We watched a movie and then he told me about his trip to Paris. He loves the river, he said, the bridge, the park, the old men who eat the dirty fish.


I met John at the dock. He was parading up and down, dancing, clapping his hands, trying to get the sea lions to laugh. He thinks they do, just not when people are looking. I asked how the novel was going. He said good and smiled, and his eyes were about as California as they get, golden and dusty and lonely. I only hope he’s taking care of himself. He has that little house near Salinas—the cactus growing wild—and his wine. He said that it’s good being busy and alone, that it suits him. I watched his eyes to see how much he meant it.


Issa was in rare form! He had the bar in absolute stitches. That face of his, you could read the known world in it. Do you remember the story of the butterfly and the river? The stone with the dry back? Wow! Even the boys put away their dice to listen. One of them, so moved, promised the constable he’d reform, become a poet too. Issa was angry at his boasting and told him to quiet down or leave. When the boy went into the street to urinate, he was arrested by a cop with snow on his hat.


George, I said, are you happier now, in the movies? Was the TV too small? Did you bump your head against its sides, did you like playing doctor? He was gracious, as only a star can be, and chuckled. He sat with his coffee cup, blowing on the steam. I am happy, he said, though he did pinch his brow, just a little in sadness, out of deference to me. We had a walk by the lake and then went to his house for spaghetti. If you were there, Margot, the two of you would have lit the poles of the room.

About the Author

Joseph Young writes microfiction in Baltimore. His work has appeared in Lamination Colony, Wigleaf, FRiGG, Cake Train Grey Sparrow Journal, and others. A volume of his microfiction, Easter Rabbit, was published by Publishing Genius Press in December 2009.

This story appeared in Issue Twelve of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twelve

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